The Myth of Manufacturing in America

Will protectionism make America great again?

The question is a hot topic now that the era of Trump is just weeks away. The President-elect’s promise to keep – and bring back- manufacturing jobs to the United States via tariffs has its supporters and detractors, with many wondering whether a 35 percent hike on Mexican imports and a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods will spur job creation here.

Veteran columnist George Will is clearly is the free trade camp, and uses a recent study from Ball State University to back up his argument. According to the study, of the 5.6 million manufacturing jobs lost between 2000 and 2010, trade accounted for 13 percent and productivity improvements accounted for more than 85 percent.

If history is used as a barometer, slapping tariffs on one country simply moves production to another. When Japanese imports were restricted during the Carter Administration, imports from South Korea and Taiwan increased. Tariffs also enabled American producers to raise their prices in order to compete. The loser in all of this? The American consumer, who paid more for the goods they purchased.

Is it worth it? Should we make America 1953 again, as Will’s article is titled? Let us know what you think.

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